“According to Dr. Siegel, while nobody wants to be ill, many patients say that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them. It helped them appreciate life and to express their feelings to their loved ones. They were able to pick up the paintbrush they previously had been too busy to hold. Even illness can be a blessing.” – Lori Beth Jones Jesus CEO
Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Sheryl Sandberg confirms this in her book Option B, as she discusses grief, resilience and her path to finding Joy. She says her life is better after losing her husband because of the joy and gratitude that she has cultivated as a result. Although she wishes she could have her husband back – she acknowledges her life has improved greatly since his passing.
Hardships can produce personal growth and can be catalysts for the creation of monumental works. Psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman writes, “Adversity can provide powerful inspiration for work that strives to make sense of the artist’s inner life and emotional state” –Wired to Create. In fact, some of the world’s most celebrated works have been squeezed from dire tears and lonely hours. Some examples are Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. There is a strong link between trauma and creativity, and varying modes of creativity have proven to be healing – this is not surprising.
God can transform the lowest moments of our lives to make mighty movements of restoration in and around us by building gratitude and resiliency in our hearts – and helping us to find meaning in adversity.
The good news is we don’t have to experience difficulty in order to grow or obtain inspiration for great conceptions or creations. We can choose to make meaning today no matter our circumstances.
Recent research says, “Positive events grounded in meaning – as opposed to accomplishments, relationships or events evoking pleasure – are most likely to lead to growth.” These experiences include awe, wonder, inspiration and connection to God. These experiences can lead people to see the world anew, experience inner growth, and produce great works. If people choose to make meaning from these positive experiences, they are able to “Move towards new goals, change their relationships, priorities, identities and even spiritual beliefs” – Wired to Create
We don’t need to wait for tragedy to strike in order to grow resiliency and joy and we needn’t experience grief to create with robust fervor. Perhaps we can have gain without pain after all.
We can do this by pausing at the painted sky, stopping throughout the day to re-align the heart, mind and soul with God through prayer and meditation, and we can pause to ponder the unfathomable love of the cross. These experiences can be catalysts for growth and creativity in the same way suffering can be.
I have been spending days making meaning of the world as a camp speaker with energetic teenagers. The cabin walls of this rustic place are covered with names scripted by campers from decades past. The writing on the walls tells stories of people who have experienced the wonder of God here. I recognize many of them to be people who were impacted and grew in astonishing ways through experiencing God in this place.
Choosing to make space to experience God is choosing to grow and be inspired. Don’t wait for mighty storms to hit in order to pursue the best life. Today waits for you – with moments of awe and wonder to be uncovered and discovered. We can indeed have gain without pain; the writing is on the wall.